Greenpeace activists kept occupying a deep sea mining research vessel in the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday, while the mining firm in charge of the expedition petitioned a Dutch court to halt the protest, which it claimed was costing it $1 million per day.
The research trip is being carried out by the subsidiary of The Metals Company (TMC). This Canadian company wants to seek the world’s first deep-sea mining license in international waters next year.
Greenpeace International reportedly dispatched its vessel, the Arctic Sunrise, to stop the TMC-chartered ship, MV Coco, as opposition to mining biodiverse deep marine ecosystems grows. Greenpeace members boarded the Coco on Saturday and scaled a winch for lowering equipment into the ocean.
Two activists were on the ship as of Tuesday, and Greenpeace claimed they would stay until TMC called off the mission.
Greenpeace is registered with the Netherlands, and counsel for TMC’s subsidiary urged a judge on Tuesday to force the activists to step down and pay Greenpeace up to €50,000 for each hour they do not comply.
Scientists on board the Coco have been collecting data on the impact of a mock mining operation undertaken by TMC in the Pacific between Hawaii and Mexico in 2022. TMC claimed in its legal action that Greenpeace hindered its research and endangered the activists’ safety.
Greenpeace attorneys responded that the organization was engaging in a peaceful protest safeguarded by the European Convention on Human Rights. The activists who boarded Coco were described as “highly experienced climbers” who had trained for the trip.
From the Arctic Sunrise, Louisa Casson, Greenpeace’s deep sea mining campaigner, emphasized the need for peaceful activism and witnessed an industry traditionally operated in the shadows.
A decision is expected on Thursday. They have faith in the Dutch courts to rule on the subject and are confident following the day in court, according to a TMC representative. TMC is one of a few businesses looking to harvest polymetallic nodules from the deep sea, which contain minerals required in electric car batteries.
Late Monday, International Seabed Authority’s Secretary-General Michael Lodge wrote to Greenpeace Executive Director Mads Christensen, requesting that the activists vacate the Coco.
The International Seabed Authority is the UN-affiliated institution that supervises deep-sea mining. However, it has yet to approve legislation allowing exploitation to begin.
Lodge stated that he was acting in accordance with ISA standards in response to TMC’s request in light of the immediate threat of serious damage to the marine environment and the security of life at sea. Lodge also informed Christensen that he requested that the Dutch government consider legal action against Greenpeace.
Casson stated that the ISA’s participation demonstrated the so-called regulator’s intimate relationship with the industry.
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